Hiring Inside Sales Reps

Over the 10 years I’ve spent interviewing inside sales candidates, I’ve caught myself looking for the obvious traits we seek in people hoping to explore sales for the first time.

Do they have the drive? Do they seem intelligent? Are they articulate? Can they think on their feet? How do they deal with adversity? Will they fit in with the team?

While these questions are extremely important for us to ask, there are other questions that we often forget to ask throughout the interview. Over a decade, I’ve learned that getting to the bottom of these questions is absolutely essential for inside sales candidates.

On the surface, these questions may seem obvious. However, when an inside sales rep quickly flames out after 2 months on the job, I’m often kicking myself for not sticking to the 3 C’s:

Commitment: Have They Demonstrated It?

I’ve made the mistake in the past of assuming that a candidate is passionate about selling just because they showed up to the interview. Problem is that folks who tell me they’re thinking about marketing or sales are major red flags, and they rarely work out in the field.

Cold calling and inside sales are not for the faint of heart. You can’t just dip your toe in the water. Either you fully commit to it, or you don’t. The last thing any of us needs is an inside sales rep knocking on your office after two months and admitting that they’re burnt out and they don’t think the job is a great fit for them.

I get it: I have to be realistic. Most people don’t want to grind it out on the phones forever. But in order for them to truly absorb the required skills from the job, allowing you to run a sales team effectively, they need to stick it out for a full year.

Confidence: Is It Clearly Innate?

I’ve worked around some interesting sales characters over the years, and not everyone was an extrovert constantly brimming with confidence. But when put on the spot in a selling situation, everyone did rise to the occasion with the necessary amount of confidence.

If your inside sales reps are getting busy C-level executives on the phone, they need to command that call with confidence or they aren’t going to get far with a sales conversation. Even the slightest bit of hesitation with high-level execs will cause you to lose ’em.

My suggestion is to role play with any candidate to see how their confidence projects over the phone. We’ve been surprised with folks who were very confident in the interview and blew it on a role play, and vice versa.

Curiousity: Are They Interested?

Outside the common HR questions, such as salary and hours, what are they asking during the interview that they may not have been able to glean from the website? Do they strive to know more than the basics of the role? Are they asking about you and how you ended up in the role you’re in? Are they curious about other sales reps in the company, and what makes the most successful ones productive? After training, are they interested in knowing what you feel is necessary for them to ramp up quickly?

If your inside sales candidates are showing a genuine interest in the job, it’s likely they will persevere to success. No guarantees that they’ll actually succeed, but a deep-seated curiosity will help them along the way.

When interviewing inside sales candidates, remember the 3 C’s: Commitment, Confidence, and Curiosity. This criteria will help you determine who will burn out easily in the sales realm and who will continue to persist in a challenging but rewarding environment.